Scores of struggling GP practices could face de-registration or special measures

More than 150 low-rated GP providers have been in breach of CQC regulations for longer than a year and could face losing their registration or being placed in special measures, GPonline has learned.

The CQC has confirmed that 20 GP providers are currently undergoing de-registration after failing to make improvements for over a year.

A further 152 ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’ providers - primarily GP practices but also including out-of-hours and urgent care organisations - have been in breach of regulations for more than 12 months.

These practices could face CQC action - including being down-rated and placed in special measures or closed down if patient safety is considered at risk - in the coming months.

The CQC re-inspects GP practices rated requires improvement within one year of an initial inspection and inadequate practices within six months to ensure any breaches are rectified.

It said it would take 'proportionate action' against those in breach related to the seriousness of the concerns and considering whether there are 'multiple and persistent breaches'.

If it considered that patients were coming to harm or were at risk of harm as a result of the breaches it would consider cancellation, it added.

If patient safety is not considered to be immediately at risk, the CQC will 'work with them to improve standards rather than taking enforcement action'.

Map: GP CQC ratings

A CQC spokesman said: 'We will only consider the cancellation of a registration if we assess that the registered person does not have the capability or the capacity to substantially comply with regulations, or is likely to fail to do so.'

Most practices that have been re-inspected managed to improve their rating, with over 100 practices originally rated inadequate now holding higher ratings.

Almost 400 practices rated good were originally rated either requires improvement or inadequate.

But inspectors expect practices to make improvements swiftly and meet all legal requirements following their rating – most of those that go on to improve would not have such long-standing concerns that stretch for longer than a year.

There are currently at least 180 GP practices holding an inadequate rating and over 600 with a requires improvement rating.

GP quality

Commenting on the latest batch of CQC report, Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice, said: ‘What’s enormously encouraging is that our inspections are driving improvement – 90% of practices that we have re-inspected have improved since last October.

‘Through their hard work and dedication, practices are making positive changes to the care they deliver.

‘However, we still see evidence of too much poor care. I am glad to say that we have increasingly found that most practices that are placed in special measures use the support that is on offer to meet those standards.’

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